Powerset (company)

FoundedSan Francisco, U.S. (2005)
ParentMicrosoft (as of August 1, 2008)

Powerset was an American company based in San Francisco, California, that, in 2006, was developing a natural language search engine for the Internet.[1] On July 1, 2008, Powerset was acquired by Microsoft for an estimated $100 million.[2]

Powerset was working on building a natural language search engine that could find targeted answers to user questions (as opposed to keyword based search). For example, when confronted with a question like "Which U.S. state has the highest income tax?", conventional search engines ignore the question phrasing and instead do a search on the keywords "state", "highest", "income", and "tax". Powerset on the other hand, attempts to use natural language processing to understand the nature of the question and return pages containing the answer.

The company was in the process of "building a natural language search engine that reads and understands every sentence on the Web".[3] The company has licensed natural language technology from PARC, the former Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.[4]

On May 11, 2008, the company unveiled a tool for searching a fixed subset of English Wikipedia using conversational phrases rather than keywords.[5]

  1. ^ Helft, Miguel (2007-01-01). "In Silicon Valley, the Race Is On to Trump Google". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Powerset Blog : Microsoft to Acquire Powerset Archived July 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Powerset Blog: Powerset launches Powerset Labs at TechCrunch40". Archived from the original on October 30, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  4. ^ Helft, Miguel (2007-02-09). "In a Search Refinement, a Chance to Rival Google". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Powerset Debuts With Search of Wikipedia - NYTimes.com. Bits.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.

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